Option A for the NE 130th Street Station, courtesy of Sound Transit.
Option A for the NE 130th Street Station, courtesy of Sound Transit.

Members of the Sound Transit Board are expected to make a decision in April 2015 regarding light rail station locations on the Northgate-to-Lynnwood extension. One station being considered is a NE 130th Street Station on the east side of I-5 and NE 130th Street. The proposed 130th Street station would not have a parking structure and would rely on people walking, biking, and riding transit. A proposed King County Metro bus route could serve an east-west corridor stretching from Bitter Lake to Lake City while providing direct service to a NE 130th Street station. On top of that, protected bike lanes are planned for the area, which would encourage more people on bikes to ride to the station.

The 130th Street/125th Street corridor has far greater room for additional capacity than Northgate Way or 145th Street. It also offers a shorter distance between the urban hearts of Lake City and Bitter Lake. A new bus route could easily and efficiently serve both communities with quick access to light rail without the delays and congestion on 145th Street and Northgate Way.

Service at the station is scheduled to start in 2023 and would cost about $25 million to construct, considerably less than the cost of building parking garages at a suburban station.

A NE 130th Street Station would be very beneficial to North Seattle communities, and here’s just a few reasons why:

  • Fast and dependable light rail access to two of the densest and most underserved communities in North Seattle: Lake City and Bitterlake.
  • Easy and fast connections to Broadview, Haller Lake, Jackson Park, Pinehurst, Olympic Hills, and Cedar Park;
  • Promoting more walking and biking to the light rail station. Many residents of Haller Lake, Jackson Park and Pinehurst commuters are in the walkshed of a NE 130th Street station, and would easily be able to walk to the light rail station. This would reduce their need to drive or take a bus to the Northgate or NE 145th Street stations.
  • Take pressure off for building expensive parking garages at both the Northgate and NE 145th Street stations.
  • Significantly increase ridership on Link light rail. At least 3,200 riders are expected to board at a NE 130th Street station daily.

This project is relatively inexpensive compared with other light rail stations, and Sound Transit projects are coming in significantly under budget. One would think that this would make it an easy add-on with savings, but Sound Transit decision makers have not indicated support for a NE 130th Street station.

While there may not be any vocal support from Sound Transit board members at this point, nothing is yet final. An extremely strong showing of community and business support could turn the tides in favor of approving this station. Now is the time to show your support before the April board meeting, and you can do that by directly contacting the decision makers. Simply send them a message to let them know that North Link must have a NE 130th Street Station to open with the line in 2023. Here’s who you should contact:

Sound Transit Board, Seattle Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Seattle Councilmember Mike O’Brien, King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski, Seattle Department of Transportation Director Scott Kubly, King County Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond, and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

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39 COMMENTS

  1. I am a resident of Haller Lake, and am fervently in favor of having
    a light rail station at 130th St. Currently I try to avoid driving my
    car as much as I can, but I work in Lynnwood, and the bus system is
    inadequate to get me to work in under 2 hours. Light rail would make a
    huge difference for my commute!!

    I just contacted everyone on the list to let them know my views.

  2. As a real estate agent, I see the prices along the light rail going up dramatically due to walking distance. People are actually buying based on whether they can walk to the light rail or not. Unfortunately, some houses are jsut a little too far between. Having stops too far away so that people who live near but not near enough is a shame. Why shouldn’t every stop be twice the walking distance from the last so that no one near the corridor can not walk to a station.

  3. I live in Jackson Park and I totally support 130th Street Station. When I go downtown I always rely on the 77 or the 41. When they go away I’m going to have to go through Northgate, and so will everyone else in my shoes making a congested area even more so. It doesn’t make any sense to me why the rail would go through there and not stop there.

  4. Regardless of exact location, all Light Rail stations outside of downtown Seattle need to be modeled after the Tukwila station. They need to have the combination of pedestrian access, bus service and parking. The lack of parking at the stations is one of the major failure points of the initial Light Rail run.

    • Why do you feel that parking is required? Not only would it be astronomically more expensive than the simple cost of the station, and it would garner so few riders that the subsidy per driving rider would be nearly 10 times the walking, biking, and transit riding user. This isn’t a suburban end station. People actually live near it. There will be plenty of other locations where they could drive to. Also, by requiring that, you’d effectively preclude the station.

    • I completely disagree. Parking only makes sense at the ends of the system. You could build a system that is reliant on parking, but it would be a very poorly functioning one. You simply can’t build enough parking to justify a light rail line. Just to throw a little math at you, here is what our light rail line is capable of doing:

      Link has the capacity for four car trains, each carrying 200 people, and traveling every two minutes during rush hour. That is 24,000 people per hour. But let’s be pessimistic, and assume that it runs half full during rush hour and quarter full after that. Let’s also assume it runs every five minutes during rush hour, and every ten minutes the rest of the day. That would be 9,600 during rush hour and only 2,400 per hour the rest of the day. To make the math easier will assume rush hour is four hours a day, and the trains run 16 hours every day. That is a total of 76,800. Remember, this is with pessimistic running times, and pessimistic train loads. Let’s be even more pessimistic and assume that only one third of that number actually use a station. That is around 25,000 people per day. How big of a parking lot do you want to build? Tukwila has 600 spots. I believe the biggest parking and ride in the area has 1,200 spots. Let’s double that, and add a 2,500 stall parking lot at each station (I’m sure the neighbors will love that). You still have only ten percent of a very low performing rail station.

      In contrast, one bus, the 41 for example, handles 10,000 people. That is way more people, and it spends half of its time trying to get downtown (imagine if it spent more of its time picking up passengers and dropping them off at the station).

      All of the really successful systems have little to no parking within the city — their only parking is at the end. Even L. A. doesn’t have parking at every station. See my comment above (where I answer Sue’s question starting with “Do you have a source that says most light rail users don’t drive?”

      • This is a great explanation to put park and rides in context. It should also be noted that the cost of structured parking is going to fall somewhere between $40 and $100k per spot. This means that in order to service the couple hundred extra people using the park and ride, the station would be tens of millions of dollars more expensive to build.

      • One problem with your explanation is that you are assuming “either or.” Not all the passengers are going to be driving, nor are all the passengers going to be bussing.
        Far be it from Seattle (and area) to actually look at and learn from a successful system in a similar area. I know the planners in this area like to reinvent the wheel with everything they do. However, look at the BART. Outside of downtown Oakland and downtown SF; they have stations with parking lots. Not huge parking lots to handle all the passengers but reasonable parking lots to handle some of the passengers.

        On a similar note, when building the south end, they should have routed the line via Southcenter. They could have used a corner of that existing parking lot as a park and ride. The mall would have benefited from the convenience thus reducing a significant amount of the existing parking demand. the light rail could have benefited from the convenience of existing parking for additional passengers in the area. (Yes, it is too late to change that without a costly complete restructuring but it is a lesson to be learned for the future.)

        • >> One problem with your explanation is that you are assuming “either or.” Not all the passengers are going to be driving, nor are all the passengers going to be bussing (sic).

          I never said that. I simply said that a parking lot at 125th (or as you suggested, everywhere but downtown) is simply a waste of money, and will contribute very little to the overall success of the transit line. Add fifty spaces and you will contribute around 2% of the service that the 41 does. Add a Tukwila size lot (which is enormous compared to Northgate, let alone the area we are talking about) and we maybe get 10% of the riders. It just doesn’t seem worth it to spend that kind of money to increase ridership by that little. Building the bridge across the freeway next to Northgate will increase ridership way more. Simply adding this station, with no parking, will add a lot more because the bus service will get much better. Heck, you could offer “Free latte Friday” to the first 100 customers at this station and get a bigger increase in ridership for less money.

          As I said, I don’t mind the giant parking lots where they make sense: in the outer suburbs. Those are the areas where people will, of course, drive to the station. Tukwila is a great example of this, and the park and ride lot makes a lot of sense. The lack of good feeder bus service along with the lack of service to Southcenter you mentioned just leads lots of people into driving there.

          But this is not a commuter rail stop. This is an urban rail stop, that is about five minutes away from the second biggest destination in the state, and about fifteen minutes away from the biggest. It also sits between two of the most populous communities in the city. There is no bigger concentration of people to the north until you get to Canada (feel free to check the census maps).

          You are right, Sound Transit needs to stop reinventing the wheel and copy systems that work. But that system is Vancouver, which has the third-highest per capita transit use in North America, after only New York and Toronto (http://www.biv.com/article/2014/12/theres-far-more-good-news-bad-translink-numbers/). It also has by far the highest per capita transit use among other cities our size in North America – three times more than Portland, the next highest city.

          It does all this by having a very well integrated mix of buses and rail. The rail doesn’t cover everywhere (it can’t, like Seattle, Vancouver is a new city, it lacks the traditional subway) but the rail compliments the bus service extremely well. That is exactly what this station would do.

          Also, there are park and rides in Vancouver, but they are located on the outer edges of the system. There are none in Vancouver, Burnaby or New Westminster (https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=z06Yu9qjk7RM.kpLcgWv_Bo0k). Many of these don’t serve the train, but serve the buses (http://www.translink.ca/en/Getting-Around/Driving/Park-and-Ride.aspx). As the FAQ on that page put it so well, they added the park and ride lots to “Improve access for customers who have no other way of accessing the regional transit system.”. That is the case for many of the suburban stations. That isn’t the case in the city (and it if is, we have failed to make a good system and have blown billions of dollars in the process).

        • As to your latter point on Southcenter, you’re right. That was a truly missed opportunity. But, there’s a lot of fuzzy history surrounding that. Mostly a combo of jurisdictional battles and opposition from the mall owners. :-/

  5. What are the changes to the bridge. (reconstructed bridge) Is this figured in the $25 million? That whole intersection looks confusing to me. The bus stop is on the bridge?

        • Yeah, that part is confusing to me as well. I think it is simply part of some changes that the city has been looking at for the area. I think they want to make the changes as Sound Transit does the work to get the light rail line through there (underneath the overpass, from what I can tell) but I think it has nothing to do with a possible station. That seems to be the case, based on the comments here: http://www.pinehurstseattle.org/2014/12/04/sdot-safety-review-of-5th-ave-ne/

          From what I can tell, the city wants to get rid of the two part right turn from northbound to eastbound Roosevelt. I think this is mainly to improve sight lines and thus reduce accidents.

          This is a bit off topic, but I would like it if the city either added a left turn lane from east bound 130th to 5th Ave NE, or simply prevented people from turning left here. It is annoying to be behind folks that turn on their blinkers at the last second, and hold up a line of cars. If they took away the left turn, you could still head north on 5th by taking three right turns (the way UPS drivers do).

  6. I am a resident of the immediate area and strongly support the 130th St. Station. The city could remove the ugly structures on 5th NE and 123rd that replace the beautiful trees there to make room for parking. If you look closely at the homes along 5th NE. north of 125th, they don’t appear to be very well maintained and perhaps would be open to being purchased by the city for mitigation. From Northgate to 145th is now a no-man’s land. I cannot imaging walking to either the Northgate link nor the 145th link to get on the light rail. I am concerned that we will lose our 41 express bus to downtown from this area. It has been a god-send!

    • Sheila – The 41 (and the 77 and the 73) as we know it will definitely go away when Northgate Station opens. Feeder buses would likely sweep Pinehurst/Jackson Park people to Northgate Station. Or, we could get down to Lake City Way to take a bus downtown.

      • Which is again why this station is so important. If you are coming from Lake City (or anywhere along the 125th Street corridor) then you will take a “hit” of sorts,when the 41 changes. It won’t go downtown, so you will have to get off the bus and take the train. If your ultimate goal is downtown, then it might be just a tad slower, assuming the bus never encountered traffic. But the train will travel very fast, and make some great stops along the way (the UW and Capitol Hill for example). You won’t have to wait very long for the train, either, because it will come along quite often (it has the potential to go every two minutes, but that won’t happen initially). But the 41 would still be slow where it is now, by Northgate.

        With this station, the bus ride is much faster. Rather than a ten minute ride from Lake City, it is five minutes. But it isn’t just about getting to downtown. That alone would make this station worth it, but that is just one of the many advantages.

        Since the bus isn’t bogged down in Northgate traffic, it can run more often and to more areas. As Renee and others have mentioned, this will allow you to directly get to a lot more neighborhoods. The connection possibilities also excite me. Getting from Pinehurst to Greenlake, for example, takes 45 minutes by bus. It is no wonder that so many people drive. But with a fast, frequent bus route along 125th/130th and the RapidRide, I could get there about as quickly on the bus (since the RapidRide travels in a special bus lane). There are dozens and dozens of examples like this. With a station here, Metro can incorporate a “grid” like bus system, which can greatly speed up the time it takes to get from one place to another. As someone who drives way more than he wants to, I can say that I look forward to the bus route changes almost as much as the light rail. I’ll be able to leave my car at home more often, and so will lots of other people.

  7. I’m a bit on the fence with this. That area is far from pedestrian friendly there would need to be some huge investment around that. Anything that takes pressure from the Northgate site is a good idea but without parking I just don’t know how viable it would be. The surrounding neighborhood is largely single family and I would need for them to weigh in heavily before I could support.

    • Aside from the fact that planning for a station would presumably encourage investment in the area, keep in mind that this is for 2023 as well. Much will change before then.

    • The largest benefit to the area is much better bus service. It’s not just about the people who would walk to the station, but about those that would take a bus, then the light rail. Lake City is a great example of this. Without this change, a rider from Lake City has to take a bus that gets clogged down in Northgate related traffic. This means that a bus travels less often. With this change, a bus can travel a lot more often along 125th, and can also connect people to areas to the east, like Bitterlake and Greenwood.

      I could easily imagine the 522 (which goes up Lake City and Bothell Way to Bothell) being rerouted to serve Greenwood. This would benefit everyone in the region at no extra cost (since a bus can get to Greenwood in less time than going to downtown). This opens up the possibility of transfers and direct connections that weren’t possible before. Getting to anywhere along Aurora from anywhere along the 125th corridor would be very fast and easy. Right now our bus system is stretched too thin, and thus doesn’t run often enough or run east west. With changes like this, it can, and still get people downtown faster than if there is no station (without any additional cost).

    • >> The surrounding neighborhood is largely single family and I would need for them to weigh in heavily before I could support.

      I live in the neighborhood, and so does Renee. We both strongly support it, and so does everyone I’ve talked to. Renee is a community leader (I’m just a guy who comments on blogs).

      • Yes I Know Renee. It would be fair to say we don’t always support the same things. Example she thinks the 6 horrible buildings (apodments) on 5th Ave near this proposed site are wonderful , I totally disagree. I have done battle with the city for years against them in single family neighborhoods and finally the city has listened. I mean to show no disrespect, just saying.http://www.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2013/03/11/small-affordable-apartments-seattle-needs-more-not-a-moratorium

        • Fair enough, but I think that is neither here nor there.

          I guess I don’t understand why you are on the fence. Is it the cost? I have walked that area plenty of times, and there are sidewalks, so compared to much of the area, it is pedestrian friendly. Crossing the street is difficult, but the city is working on it, and they will help make it better regardless of what Sound Transit does (they need to, after that horrible accident).

          This would be viable without parking. The vast majority of light rail riders don’t drive to the station. If you need parking, you have a lousy light rail station. Most people will arrive on foot, bike or bus. In this case, it will be by bus.

          As someone who owns his own house and lives in the neighborhood, I can tell you that is exactly what I would do. I personally think folks who believe this is a great station because it will induce so called “Transit Oriented Development” or TOD are mistaken. The area is simply not great for that. About half the land in the area is taken up by parks and roads (freeways mostly). Much of the rest already has apartments. The city won’t fight hard for up-zoning because there is little to be gained by it. If it wasn’t for the superior bus connections (to areas that have plenty of apartments and many on the way — like Lake City) it would make no sense at all. But without it folks from Lake City (and Bitterlake) are looking at a much worse commute, and everyone else has to live with much worse bus and bus to rail service.

          • No it is not the cost per se. I also own my house and live 15 blocks from “the site”. That adjacent area is most definately single family for many blocks, check city wide zoning map http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/toolsresources/zoningmapbooks/default.htm . Studies show folks won’t walk more than 1/4 mile to catch transit. As an activist myself my goal has been to protect single family neighborhoods. This transit site just raises a red flag for me.I agree its not a great area for upzoning, though you must know those horrible apodments tried.
            I still say the area is not pedestrian friendly. There is a lot more to ped.friendly than having a sidewalk.
            I admit my interest has been in things other than transit so I am no expert. Most areas that currently have light rail also have RPZ which could help. Do you have a source that says most light rail users don’t drive?

          • Sound Transit did use .5 mile walking for their study. Personally I think that was being generous though I did read in another study folks will walk a bit farther than 1/4 mile for something like link than they would for a bus. As far as parking they use 1/4 mile for how far a person will park there car away then walk to the stop. Have you ever been to a Mall parking lot? Humans are very lazy.

          • Just to be clear, studies show the walkshed thing doesn’t work the way people think it does. People will generally walk a mile to/from transit in their neighbourhood. They will only walk a quarter mile to work. A lot of that has to do with errands and whatnot in their home area.

            Also, SDOT’s data show that hide and ride is incredibly rare. It’s just too much hassle. Plus, parking isn’t an issue up in this area.

          • Yes, they will, but in this case they won’t need to. Nor will they need to drive. Have you ever walked along a street, only to be passed by a bus (with your bus fare in your pocket)? I have, and that will happen all the time with this station. That doesn’t mean that people won’t walk (sometimes people don’t want the hassle) but if you are half mile away, it will be faster to wait for a bus. The buses should run every five minutes. It takes about ten minutes to walk half a mile, but only a couple minutes for the bus to do it. You basically save two or three minutes. At least that will be the case on 125th/Roosevelt/130th (the main east west road and the one that will get frequent transit along here). I could easily see a BRT style bus being added here, for that matter. This means more doors and level boarding, which means picking up and dropping off people is as quick as it is with a train.

            Things would be a bit different along 5th. I don’t think there will be quite the frequent transit there. There will be something (there is now) but it won’t be as frequent, nor as consistent.

          • Lately we have been proving that at the University of Washington Station. Its about 1/4 mi + escalators from Stevens Way.

          • I live in the area and know it really well as well. I never said the area adjacent to it wasn’t zoned single family, I’m sorry if I suggested otherwise. But I think you are assuming this will be like Roosevelt. It won’t be. There is only one reason they are building this station: bus service.

            That is it. Really, that is it. This stop is a bad spot for walk up riders. There will be some, but not that many.

            There is very little to be gained by rezoning, which is why it isn’t worth fighting. Even if you completely rezoned the entire area, there would not be that many new buildings that close to the station. I think it is helpful to look at the area from the air (using a tool like Google Maps). Figuring out the exact housing potential is difficult, but I break it down like so: Go out from the station ten blocks in every direction. This is a bigger area than you originally suggested (half a mile and even more if you are at the corners) but I think it makes the discussion easier. First thing I noticed is that much of the land is simply uninhabitable. The freeway, 5th Avenue (which has no houses between it and the freeway, north of 125th) and other wide roads take up a good chunk of the land. The park and the golf course take up a sizable amount as well. Between the roads and the parkland, you only about half the land left for housing.

            Then you have the fact that much of the land already has apartments, and is in fact zoned for apartments. The area close to Roosevelt and 10th (and in fact west of 10th, closer to the station) is already zoned for apartments and there already are apartments (e. g. Roosevelt Park Apartments).

            There are only tiny slivers of land that could possibly be converted from housing to apartments, and it just isn’t worth fighting for. Even big proponents of upzoning know how to pick their battles, and they won’t pick this one. There is just so little to be gained. I can practically count the houses, and the ones that will likely never change (e. g. the Lutheran church on 127th).

            On the other hand, this stop enforces the “urban village concept” that supporters of single family housing support. If you want apartments in Lake City and Bitterlake, then you can’t tell the people who live in those apartments that they have to put up with a poor commute. Quite the opposite. You want to give them the best possible public transit possible. This will get more folks out of their car, and in many cases, lead them to never even buy a car. It increases the value of these apartments, and makes the urban village concept more valuable. This in turn makes it easier to preserve single family zoned areas.

          • >> Do you have a source that says most light rail users don’t drive?

            No, but I’m sure if I asked around I could find something. But I think you can just do the math. The Southcenter Mall (what I assume to be the biggest parking lot in Washington State) has room for 7,000 cars, and that includes a huge parking garage. Then you have to figure out how to get those cars into the garage. Traffic around a parking lot that size is similar to traffic next to a football game. For example Northgate has a much smaller parking lot and we all know what traffic is like around the holidays (and those people are arriving throughout the day, and are not just focused on rush hour). At that point, folks may as well drive to their ultimate destination.

            But neither Sound Transit nor Metro have park and rides that big. There biggest is less than 2,000 spots.

            In contrast, a bus can carry quite a few people. The 41, for example, carries around 10,000 people a day ( http://metro.kingcounty.gov/planning/pdf/2011-21/2014/service-guidelines-full-report.pdf, appendix H). That is only one bus that only serves a small area (Lake City, Northgate and downtown). Buses for this station could serve Lake City, Bitterlake as well as areas further west. It could connect easily with the Bothell corridor as well. That is all just the east-west corridor. Other buses could provide more service (e.g. for folks along 5th).

            But by far the biggest number of riders of a popular station arrive by foot. Think Husky Stadium on game day. A lot of people drive, but more people arrive by bus and even more just walk. Our most popular stations will be ones that don’t have park and rides (e. g. Capitol Hill) or have really tiny ones where drivers make up a small percentage (Roosevelt). That won’t be the case with this station — most of the people will arrive by bus (again, 10,000 is just one bus).

            You can also just look around the world at the rail systems that are most successful. New York, Chicago, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, or my favorite, Vancouver BC. Most of the riders of this system arrive by bus or by foot (or by boat). Even L. A. is building their line with bus to rail interaction in mind. There are park and rides, but they are tiny, and thus can only hold a small percentage of the riders. This is L. A. we are talking about (land of the car). Folks aren’t throwing away their cars, they are just leaving them in the garage, hopping on a bus or walking to the station.

            To be fair, at the end of many systems, there are big garages, and folks do drive there. But not in the city. You don’t want to build a 10,000 stall parking garage in the city. I sure don’t.

  8. Excellent article. I completely agree. The cost is so small compared to the benefit. This really is about bus to rail interaction. Lake City and Bitterlake are both communities that have lots of people, and are growing. They are by far the biggest communities that won’t have light rail service for the foreseeable future. Parts of Lake City, for example, contain the highest concentration of people north of the UW (according to the last census).

    A station at 130th is by far the best way to connect these areas. The cost is minimal for a stop that is likely to be a lot more popular than most of the stations along this route. Simply the savings in operating hours (for buses) will more than make up for the cost, to say nothing of the time savings for riders.

    I’ll write these folks today.

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